Infectious Disease in Prison

Yet again, civilised society owes safety, decent treatment, and proper medical care to all its prisoners. In this case, Susan Oakie writes in the NEJM about public health in US prisons. Clearly, much more needs to be done to prevent the spread of deadly infectious diseases among inmates. Russian prisons have managed to breed extremely deadly multi-drug resistant tuberculosis which kills 40-60% of those infected. In addition to the measures recommended in Oakie's article, I suggest that all prisoners placed in general population should have compulsory testing for transmissible diseases and those who are infected should be publicly labeled as such if not quarantined while regularly educating prisoners on modes of transmission. Moreover, prison managers - in many cases private corporations in the United States - should be held to pay damages to families of prisoners who die as a result of infections they received in prison. Clearly making sex, drugs and tattooing in prisons 'illegal' is not getting the job done; they are prisoners after all. The human rights situations in prisons are tenuous enough without the possibility for prisoners to be infected with pathogens.

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